Record Label and Music Spotlight 

/ OCTOBER 2003



on Bonus Books




on Experience Hendrix Records

on 20/20 Music





BALLET TREE - A native New Yorker who earned his reputation performing at Windows On The World at the top of the World Trade Center and the Rainbow Room as a solo guitarist and with various ensembles, Cape Cod-based Fred Fried released his ninth solo album When Winter Comes in 2002 on his on Ballet Tree Productions. The follow up to Fried’s 2001 CD, Infantry Of Leaves, the nine track When Winter Comes blends Fried’s unique skills on 7-string guitar with the impressionistic string arrangements of Richard De Rosa. Also featuring Steve LaSpina (bass) and Billy Drummond (drums), When Winter Comes is moody yet uplifting, meditative yet dynamic. A good example of just how well Fried’s jazz guitar technique meshes with De Rosa’s strings is on the WWC track “Pathos” where the swirling strings conjures a spine-tingling mood comparable to a Bernard Herman-scored Hitchcock film. Fried’s fingerstyle fretboard technique on the 7 string acoustic guitar echoes the virtuosity of 7-string guitar innovator George Van Eps, a guitarist with whom Fried studied with in L.A. Seasoned playing from Fried and his trio, coupled with with the elegant string arrangements from De Rosa, makes When Winter Comes a top choice for jazz guitar enthusiasts.

- Back in the ‘60s there was a TV show called The Time Tunnel, where each week the actors would slip into some swirling top of a machine and pick a date to revisit. After all, this was the ‘60s! Perhaps the one year rivaling ‘67 and ‘69 to go back in time and really revisit is 1966, a topic that turns out to be the subject matter of a new book assembled and written by author Hal Lifson called 1966! - A Personal View Of The Coolest Year In Pop Culture History. With a cool forward by the great Nancy Sinatra, the book recaps the ‘60s as seen through the eyes of the author who was born in L.A. in 1960. Although he was a bit young, by the time the Beatles’ album Revolver hit the U.S. by late Summer ‘66, Lifson was hooked on the ‘60s forever! This book is a real treat and words can’t describe the care and rare insight Lifson brings to the topic. Pictures galore and more exclusively devoted the year 1966 make it possibly the definitive resource on the topic. One look at the cover art—featuring Brian Wilson, Star Trek, Sandy Koufax, Herman Munster, Batman, The Monkees, The Beatles, Raquel Welch...get the picture? You will and more after checking out Hal Lifson’s 1966!

- A freewheeling solo guitar album that will surely appeal to jazz guitar fans, Rebecca’s Dream is the perfect vehicle for Klimak’s fretboard expertise and compositional skills. Inspired by classical masters like Stravinsky and jazz guitarists Jim Hall, John Scofield and more recently Larry Koonse, Klimak originally planned the album as a group effort only to find that the songs sounded quite good on their own. Klimak adds, “I've done duos, but never solo. So to be completely honest although I liked the challenge, it felt kind of daunting cause there's nothing to hide behind. Whatever you play is what you're gonna hear, nothing more.” Recorded in L.A. and South Carolina in late 2002, the 12 track CD was single speed glass mastered and sounds clear as a bell. Klimak’s performance on his Taylor 714-CE acoustic is in a word, breathtaking.

- Having made several fine albums and videos over the past few years, L.A.-based Daveed released his best CD yet in 2003. The Healing Garden puts it all together with an elegant mix of smooth as silk Spanish guitars, ambient world electronics and light percussion topped off with healing meditative vibes. A great instrumental set to chill-out with, The Healing Garden features several guest musicians but the spotlight is on Daveed’s Ramirez and Gibson guitars. Mixing World-Music inspired guitar instrumentals with peaceful, groove-based electronica, the eleven track CD covers a wide range of sounds and further reveals it’s blissed-out aura with repeat listens.

- Released as a joint effort between Experience Hendrix and Hip-O Records, The American Folk Blues Festival 1962-1966 Volume One & Two captures prime video footage of the greatest American bluesmen as they toured England and Europe back in the ‘60s. Released as two separate DVD volumes—complete with detailed DVD booklets—both titles feature a wealth of previously unreleased live in the studio performances by blues legends such as Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Sonny Boy Williamson, John Lee Hooker, Willie Dixon, T-Bone Walker and Lightnin' Hopkins to name a few. Recorded live at a remote TV station in Germany, these truly eye-opening video performances have been meticulously restored by long time Jimi Hendrix engineer / producer Eddie Kramer. For anyone unfamiliar with the impact these legendary American blues giants had on British musicians during the ‘60s, there’s plenty of fascinating liner notes to help set the stories straight, including a foreword (on both volumes) by Rolling Stones bass legend Bill Wyman who adds, “Things would have been a whole lot different in Britain without the American Folk Blues Festivals; they proved to be a rich legacy for musicians throughout Europe.” Regarding the reissue of these two historic blues DVD titles on Experience Hendrix, co-producer John McDermott states, "These were the artists who inspired Jimi Hendrix and it seemed fitting that his family company would help organize these important, historically significant releases." Check out both DVD volumes of The American Folk Blues Festival 1962-1966 and find out where it all started for so many great British and American blues players. / /

ISLAND / CHRONICLES - Island Records through Universal / Chronicles reissues the final three ‘70s albums from rock greats Traffic. The 2003 single CD reissues consist of Shoot Out At The Fantasy Factory (originally released January ‘73), On The Road (originally a double live LP set from November ‘73) and the original band’s final release featuring the Traffic core of Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi and Chris Wood, When The Eagle Flies (1974). Released without bonus tracks, each reissue CD features original artwork adding in liner notes by Bill DeYoung. Calling these albums influential would be an understatement and the fine remastering and liner notes make them essential for long time Traffic devotees. Although by 1974 Traffic was no longer the influential entity that released their groundbreaking debut album—Mr. Fantasy in 1967—they were nevertheless in prime form right till the end as these three CDs clearly indicate.

- In the spirit of Wes Montgomery, George Benson, Grant Green and Pat Martino, NYC guitarist Greg Skaff heads up a groovin’ jazz guitar-based trio heavily accented by the sounds of Hammond B-3 organ on his 2003 CD Blues For Mr. T. Assisted by B-3 burner Mike LeDonne and drummer Joe Farnsworth, Skaff romps through a number of originals and choice covers of jazz greats such as Duke Ellington, McCoy Tyner and Freddie Hubbard. From the album liner notes, Hubbard himself adds, “Greg is one of the most exciting guitarists on the current New York scene. On this hard-charging organ trio date he really cooks!” A masterful electric guitarist who sounds right at home on this nine track CD of, jazzy instrumental sounds, Greg Skaff kicks it into overdrive on Blues For Mr. T.

KOCH JAZZ - Born in 1921, drummer Chico Hamilton is a living legend of the jazz world. Signed to Koch Jazz, Hamilton released Foreststorn in 2001 and in late 2002 he released his latest studio on the label album entitled Thoughts Of...Swing jazz at it’s best, the 12 track CD features an abundance of groove-heavy instrumental tracks including a number of Hamilton originals and a cover of “People”. Among the many great players assisting Hamilton on Thoughts Of...includes Hamilton group guitarist Cary DeNigris as well as well-known fretboard masters like Joe Beck, Larry Coryell and Rodney Jones. Chico recorded his first album as a leader back in 1955 with Howard Roberts on guitar and now at age 82, he’s still the man.

KRIZTAL ENTERTAINMENT - The essence of the 2003 house music craze is caught on Sungrooves: The Solar Groove Revolution. Released on the Miami-based Kriztal Entertainment, the CD features 15 global dance music tracks selected and mixed by DJ and producer Mark Riva. Combining a stellar mix of jazzy, vocal and instrumental tracks that both chill and groove, the 15 track, 79 minute CD is a veritable melting pot of Afro-Latin, Brazilian, Mediterranean and Caribbean musical styles. Featuring some of the most sultry female vocalists on the planet, Sungrooves is the future of global dance and jazz-house fusion. On a related note, Kriztal have released Bedroom Communities 01.- Pillow Talk and Bedroom Communities 02.- ReLounge. Almost as good as a trip to South Beach, both CDs feature ultra cool, various artists collections that cover a wealth of chillout/downbeats and groove-oriented dance tracks that will get you in the mood in no time!

-The continent of Australia has a rich legacy of guitar instrumental music. The Atlantics were big down under in the ‘60s and are still going strong and now Australia has sends guitarist Leanne Douglas over here to hear. Now living in Nashville, she’s working as a nurse for heart patients and in between she’s managed to record and release a tasty CD of guitar instrumentals. Leanne not only has an amazing touch on electric guitar but she’s a gifted composer. Reflecting on moving to the U.S., Leanne adds, “Nashville is totally different to where I come from. Both places are great! I think of myself as an American also, and plan on becoming a duel citizen later this year.....I love America, and I love Australia.” Her Australian background no doubt tempered her introspective soul so she’s clearly more Hank Marvin than Link Wray although the more rock dominated moments here hold up quite well. Douglas surrounds herself with some fine players including George Towne (drums) several other fine guitarists, including the excellent pedal steel from guitarist Lee Warren. Co-producing, bass and string arrangements from Dale Brown adds further sparkle to the sound of Blue Heeler.

- From the liner notes of his new CD Tasty Guitar Treats - Assorted, N.J.-based guitarist Leon Muhudinov states, “the concept behind this album was to express a varying assortment of moods by illustrating the many different styles, colors and flavors that the guitar alone can produce.” Touching on a wealth of guitar stylings—from Les Paul to Segovia and The Beatles—the first half of the 9 track CD offers guitar adaptations of Lennon / McCartney (“Eleanor Rigby”), Scott Joplin, classical guitar master Tarrega and Duke Ellington while part two features a varied round of eclectic Muhudinov originals. With it’s eclectic instrumental avant pop-jazz and classical guitar vibes, Tasty Guitar Treats - Assorted is an intriguing CD from an aspiring artist worthy of some well-earned name recognition.

NEW SURF - The guitarist and occasional lead singer in the current Brian Wilson group lineup, Jeff Foskett released a 2003 compilation on his self-owned New Surf label. The 18 track Tributes & Rarities spotlights a number of Foskett rarities from various collections and Japan only releases. Foskett classics like “I Live For The Sun” and “Thru My Window” (the title track from his ‘96 album) mix nicely with rarities like a cover of the Beamer Brothers’ classic “Honolulu City Lights”, a cover of “I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing” and a Foskett version of The Association’s “Never My Love” (featuring Association singer Larry Ramos on vocals). An excellent look at some of the lesser known tracks from this underrated singer-songwriter and guitarist, Tributes & Rarities is essential for anyone into the harmony-filled sounds of Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys.

- Although he works as a psychologist down in Florida, guitarist Rich Marcil found the time to record and release a fine guitar-based instrumental CD. From The Edge features Marcil admirably performing a number of fretted instruments including 12 string acoustic, mandolin, E-bow, electric guitar and bass guitar. Marcil has performed with numerous groups and ensembles over the years and on From The Edge he creates a unique hybrid guitar sound that draws upon folk, Celtic, symphonic rock and New Age music. Performed entirely by Marcil, the CD sound quality is uniformly excellent and overall the album spotlights an entertaining selection of majestic and relaxing instrumentals.

TS - A 21 track guitar-based instrumental album, One Breath by guitarist Tony Sims, is based around the concept of life and death and other aspects of the human drama. The album is all instrumental so there’s plenty of room for imagination. Tony Sims’ performance on acoustic and electric guitars, guitar synth, keyboards and drums conjures a range of easy on the ears moods and is in a word, exemplary. Recorded in Houston, Texas in late 2002, the album features track by track info from Sims. Similar in scope to the folk-jazz guitar-based works of Michael Hedges and Martin Simpson, One Breath is fueled by a spiritual vibe that seems to permeate the album’s very introspective mood.

20/20 MUSIC
- Long Island native Nicole McKenna really shines on her new album Stay Awhile. Released on her own 20/20 Music label, the album gets a great singer-songwriter groove going along the lines of ‘80s torch song pop greats like The Bangles and Marti Jones. Standout tracks include the exquisite title track, the ‘60s pop groove of “Ordinary Day” and a fine cover of Paul McCartney’s “Junk”. Concerning her McCartney cover, Nicole explains, “I'd always loved "Singalong Junk" off of his McCartney album. Then when I stumbled upon "Junk" and heard the lyrics, etc, it became one of my favorites. I thought it was one of the prettiest and saddest melodies I'd ever heard. When we talked about putting a cover on Stay Awhile it was my immediate first choice.” McKenna has chosen a fine round of players including the fine guitars of Andrew Carillo (Joan Osborne), Jack Petruzzelli (Rufus Wainwright, Joan Osborne). Excellent production and further guitar work from Saul Zonana puts icing on this delectable pop treat. Another album from Nicole this cool might be the ticket to put her over the top.

- Described as a cross between Neil Young, Brian Wilson and the progressive pop-rock sound of ELO, the 2003 V2 CD from California-based Grandaddy further establishes the band as a force to be reckoned with on Sunday. In the words of the group’s main writer Jason Lytle, “I feel like we’ve kind of arrived, that everything I’ve ever done has led up to this”, while Grandaddy guitarist Jim Fairchild adds, “the ideas have coalesced and refined themselves to the point where we always sort of hoped they would be.” The group’s low-fi approach to indy pop mixes well with other influences like Flaming Lips, Wilco and Mercury Rev making the 12 track Sunday a well crafted, if somewhat low-key, modern pop masterpiece worth checking out.

- Over in Japan, multi-instrumentalist Kenny Sasaki released his 2002 CD entitled Tiki Moon by Kenny Sasaki & The Tiki Boys. Those who appreciate ‘60s lounge music master Martin Denny or the laid back tropical groove of Hawaiian music will dig Tiki Moon. Sasaki wrote, produced and performed the music here and his subtle performance on guitars, keyboards and percussion supply and abundance of sonic grooves. An outstanding instrumental chill-out record that expertly blends the exotic strains of instrumental lounge music, Tiki Moon is like taking an imaginary Polynesian vacation.


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